Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll Report
This past weekend was a big weekend in my running community, the Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon and ½ Marathon was on Saturday and the Scotiabank ½ Marathon was on Sunday. Originally I was to Rock ‘N’ Roll the marathon, but injury (there I said it) sidelined my final four long runs so instead I Rock ‘N’ Rolled the ½ marathon.
Wanting to beat the dreaded Seattle rush hour traffic we started our trek Friday morning. We arrived at our hotel with only one extra loop around the block (Seattle has lots of one-way streets), checked in, freshened up and went in search of the Expo where we would pick up our race packages. Before leaving we asked our concierge (or at least I thought he was) how to get to the Expo and he said that there were things to do in town other than the marathon, like the Avatar: The Exhibition…huh?
Unfamiliar and a little frustrated with the city’s public transportation system, we got back in the car and fought rush hour/Mariner tailgate party traffic to Qwest (pronounced “quest” for idiots like myself) Field and the Health and Fitness Expo.
The Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon Series is the most organized racing event hands down, yes, even more organized than mine. We posed on the red carpet, checked in, changed races, changed corrals, picked up our schwag, all in less than 10 minutes, giving us plenty of time to take in the rest of the Expo.
The official race shirt was a little plain, I was also disappointed because it is navy blue. Race Organizers around the world, nothing goes with navy blue other than navy blue. If you want people to wear your race shirt go white, black, red…anything that you can pair with black pants, black and navy blue don’t work.
There was plenty to see and sample at the Expo; protein bars, juices, pain relievers, recovery drink and deodorant. No Sugar Ray sightings this time, but you never know who you might see.
Continuing with the Rock ‘N’ Roll theme, we decided to have our pre-race dinner at the Hard Rock Café. We sang a little Britney Bitch, harmonized with Spandau Ballet and hair tossed with White Snake. The food was good and our waiter rocked.
You would think that being in Seattle with a Starbucks on nearly every corner, finding an after dinner decaf wouldn’t be an issue. We were shocked to find out that Starbucks closed at 9:00pm and that they only brew decaf in the morning.
We moved from coffee withdrawal to pre-race breakfast. We hit Walgreens and then found an IGA right in the middle of downtown Seattle. It was like it was meant to be; bagels, fruit, plastic cutlery, even single serving sized packages of almond butter, we were good to go. With the bagels divy’d up we headed back to the hotel and retired to our respective rooms.
Attaching the timing chip wasn’t nearly as stressful as it was in Vegas, even after a glass 2 glasses of wine. I laid out my race outfit and everything that I would need for the morning and was in bed for 10:00pm.
I don’t think that I could have possibly had a worse nights sleep, it wasn’t a noise or comfort issue, it was just me. And with slightly less than four hours of sleep it was time to get up. Thank goodness for coffee and Visine.
We had heard that some friends that were also racing left their hotel at 4:30am. Why so early we thought? The race started at 7:00am, we were less than 20km away (most of it freeway), so we met in the lobby at 5:50am took a couple of pics and piled into the truck with our anonymous driver, a little over capacity.
At 6:20am we were a mile away from our exit, and the freeway came to a complete stop. Hmmm. We could see other vehicles unloading their runners who were now walking down the side of the freeway and down an embankment to join a sea of other runners who were also walking. We were well over capacity, had no idea where the start line was and were under the watchful eye of Washington’s finest, we decided it best that we stay in the vehicle and follow the map and the traffic.
The race started at 7:00am and we had only just exited off the freeway.
At 7:25am we finally made it to the racer drop off point. Leaving only a PBOP (ask Colin) we left our patient and anonymous driver and joined the sea of people, who were also late to the start line. Along a couple of walkways, under an overpass and we were exactly where we had seen the sea people from the freeway…SMF!
Through a McDonalds parking lot, an industrial area and finally we could hear the music. We wished each other well, sang a verse or two of “Life Is A Highway” and instead of going out with corral 8, instead we joined corral 30.
My race plan was simple, hydration/walk breaks every 30 minutes and a PB.
With so many people ahead of me, I spent the first hour weaving, stop-starting, with no real pace at all. I had been running along the edge of the roads/freeways/train lines so by 1:15 the outside of my left foot had started to bug me, and not from my injury either, it was from the camber of the road. I tried switching the side of road that I was running on, but it didn’t help much.
Running along Lake Washington was quite beautiful and made for a great distraction. There were so many encouraging spectators along the side of the road with fantastic signs.
- Best signs: “Chafe now, brag later” (that seems to be my running story lately) and “It’s not sweat, it’s your fat cells crying”.
- The worst: at the 5km water station read “It’s not too late to turn back”. Placed at the 18km point of the ½ marathon or the 40km point in the marathon it would be ironic and somewhat funny, but at the 5km water station…fail.
The 9.2 mile mark was the ½ marathon/marathon split. I knew I easily had another 4 miles in me, but another 17? After 8 weeks of second guessing my decision to pull out of my marathon training I was finally at peace with it, and happily veered to the left with the rest of the ½ marathoners.
Just past the 10-mile marker we were able to see our first glimpse of downtown Seattle and also when I ran up on a familiar smiling face. I knew that several of the ladies from Lululemon Coquitlam Centre were running the ½ marathon, but thought that the chances of actually seeing one of them in the crowd of 28,000 was pretty slim. It was so awesome to see Mariah. We chatted for a few minutes and then started talking time goals (nothing like doing math to get you through those last few miles), Mariah’s time goal was in our grasp so away we went.
As we entered into the downtown core the streets became lined with cheering spectators. I had lost my GPS satellite in a tunnel earlier and wasn’t sure if what I was reading on my watch was completely accurate but I knew that the end was very near. We passed along a road that I recognized only by smell of the hotdogs from the day before (they smelled so good the day before, today they made me feel nauseous). We as we rounded the corner I could see the finish line, I love that feeling.
After 13 of these, you would have thought that I would have already learned everything that I needed to know, turns out that lucky 14 taught me a few new lessons:
- Don’t expect to PB when you show up to a race 52 minutes late.
- Stick to black bottoms unless you want to look like you pee’d yourself…why did I have to relearn this lesson?
- It is what it is. Forget about what could have been or what you think should be; appreciate what you have, what you can do and do the best with it…no regrets.
- Carry ID. Even free race beer requires picture identification.
Congratulations to my running family and everyone who ran this weekend, we rocked! Big woo-hoo for Barry completing his first ½ marathon. So proud of Conny, Colin and Soraiya for running the full meal deal. Thank-you to all of the volunteers for keeping us safe, fueled and hydrated and also to my family for putting up with me especially since May 3rd.
When our group ran the San Francisco Nike Women’s ½ Marathon in 2009 we made a pact to run one destination race per year. Although this trip did require entering another country and three hour car ride I am going to say that it was more of a road trip than a destination. Who’s up for a night run in Vegas, say December?